Nikki Talley ***
This young standout on the Asheville, N.C. songwriting scene is known to perform as a solo acoustic artist, as well as to arm herself with an electric guitar and front a full, rocking band. Encouraged and championed by her musician mother (her singing mom plays guitar and banjo), Talley cites an impressively wide array of musical influences (including Joni Mitchell, Greg Brown, Laurie Anderson, Sonic Youth, Dead Can Dance, Dan Hicks, Neutral Milk Hotel, Frank Black and Wesley Willis), many of which have seeped slightly into her own carefully constructed originals.
This, her Savannah debut, is in an eatery/venue that is not necessarily geared toward quiet and contemplative acoustic music. In fact, when the place gets packed, it can be downright difficult from certain parts of the room to pay close attention to the live entertainment. So, if Talley’s sound speaks to you, it may be worth grabbing a seat that will afford the least obstructed view of this promising Southeastern performer. Listen & Learn: myspace.com/nikkitalley. Thurs., 8 pm, The Distillery - ALL-AGES.
First Friday for Folk Music
For many, many years now, the Savannah Folk Music Society has tirelessly promoted all manner of live concert events by acoustic and folk-based artists, from living legends like John McCutcheon and Leon Redbone to cult heroes such as Malcolm Holcombe and up-and-coming regional acts such as Lauren Lapointe and Jason Bible (of The Train Wrecks).
In addition to their annual Savannah Folk Festival, this regularly scheduled, monthly showcase of local, regional and national talent is —for many— a simple and easy way to keep in touch with some of the more dependably entertaining artists on the scene who still play relatively informal, essentially free gigs such as these. The artists usually have music or merchandise available for sale that helps pay their travel expenses. Plus, the environment is family-friendly, meaning it’s smoke and alcohol free.
This installment features only two performers instead of the usual three, so perhaps they’ll both play slightly extended sets. Harry O’Donoghue is a beloved figure in the Savannah music community, who plays often at River St.’s famed Irish Pub Kevin Barry’s, and travels to his homeland of Ireland at least a few times a year to gig and lead tours. He’s also the host of the popular Georgia Public Radio program The Green Island. He’ll likely play soft and wistful Celtic-tinged originals (and perhaps some traditional tunes) on guitar and bodhran.
Melanie Mirande was featured on the very first installment of this series, and has played several times since. A longtime Board Member of the SFMS, she is an apt student of the history of folk music, with a great affinity for —and a way with— message, protest and story songs. Listen & Learn: savannahfolk.org, harryodonoghue.com. Fri., 7:30 pm, First Presbyterian Church - ALL-AGES.
Jefferson Fox ***
As the result of being raised in a military family, this DIY songwriter and recording artist moved around a lot as a child. Coincidentally, in the late ‘80s, some of his youth was spent right here in the Savannah area, which is where he first tried his hand at the alt.rock band scene. While band names such as Don’t Mind Me, Exit and Lunar Halo may be a foggy memory even to those of us who were around in those days, these (mostly) cover groups afforded Fox the chance to hone his chops and flex some of his nascent songwriting skills.
By the early ‘90s, he was touring a bit along the East Coast and into the Midwest with a group called Drench, and later with a band called All That Matters. Now, he’s essentially a one-man-band, writing and recording impressive, fairly slick alt.pop with a gaggle of seasoned session players and production help from a cat who’s worked with The RHCP, Maroon 5 and Ziggy Marley, among others. This solo swing back through his old stomping ground is part of a sizable run of Southeastern dates in support of his latest CD, Animule, a quirky, irrepressible collection of tunes. Pick up on it. Listen & Learn: jeffersonfox.com. Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES.